|World Cup 2014|
ScheduleMonday, 30 June 2014 at 16:00 GMT / 17:00 UK / 21:30 IST
VenueEstádio Nacional (Brasilia)
Next Monday, France will take on Nigeria at the Estádio Nacional in Brasilia on what will be the first Round of 16 match of the day next week and a fairly good test to the former World Champions.
France arrived at Brazil with a renewed morale after smashing Jamaica by an almost unbelievable 8-0 at Stade de France and continued to impress right until their recent match against Ecuador, when they were forced to a goalless draw by the South American side.
France started the competition with an easy win over Honduras, with an inspired Karim Benzema leading the team to victory. A few days later Les Bleus faced no competition again when they measured forces with Switzerland as they completely trashed Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team on a match everyone thought would be a very close one. Last Wednesday, although, France didn’t look as powerful on their clash against Ecuador as Les Bleus struggled even after the South American team was reduced to ten men, since Antonio Valencia was sent off in the second-half.
For the match against Nigeria, Deschamps will certainly return to his usual 4-3-3 approach with Benzema alone up in the front supported by Griezmann and Valbuena, who act as some sort of inside forwards. Nigeria’s powerful and fast forward line will also pose an interesting test to the French defensive line’s consistency that has not yet been really assessed during this competition.
As for Nigeria, the match against France will be a good opportunity for them to continue and improve what they’ve started on their last match against Argentina, where despite losing the game, they put up a very interesting performance.
Nigeria’s World Cup campaign has been a mirror of the team’s inconsistency so far as they keep mixing quality performances with bland and disappointing matches. Their first game against Iran was living proof of boring and confusing football while their recent performance against La Albiceleste showed a team with a fairly superior tactical culture and good game quality.
Nigeria’s head coach, Stephan Keshi, seems to be still looking for the best way to make the most from his players and that “click” might happen against France next Monday.
Although France have to be considered firm favourites for the next Monday’s Round of 16 match, the African Super Eagles cannot be so easily ruled out as no one seems to know for sure what to expect from them.
Stats: W-3 L-0 D-2
Recent Form - DWWWD
Stats: W-3 L-1 D-1
Recent Form - LWDWW
France (4-3-3) - Loris - Debuchy - Sahko - Varane - Evra - Cabaye - Matuidi - Pogba - Griezmann - Valbuena - Benzema
Nigeria (4-3-3) - Enyeama, Ambrose, Omeruo, Oboabona, Oshaniwa, Onazi, Mikel, Azeez, Moses, Musa, Emenike